Working memory performance of children born preterm: The effects of prematurity and training

  • Author / Creator
    Lee, Shuk Ching Clara
  • Research clearly shows that preterm children have working memory (WM) impairments. However, the WM profile of preterm children is still unclear as the methodologies used in different studies are highly varied. It is unable to gain insight into the relative strengths and weaknesses of the different aspects of WM if only one area is examined. Working memory training has been proven effective in various populations. However, a recent review paper pointed out that the majority of the WM training studies involve a no-contact control group making it impossible to determine whether any training benefit is due to actual improvement or an expectancy effect. Moreover, the transfer effect of strategy training is not known as very few studies have examined the transfer benefits of strategy training. Alternatively, core WM training involves a compilation of tasks to tap multiple components of the WM. Evidence shows that core WM training not only has transfer benefits, but also has sustained gains. In Study One of the present study, school-aged preterm children were found to perform significantly worse than age-matched term-born children in Visuospatial WM but not in Verbal WM. Although, preschool preterm children had poorer WM performance than their age-matched term-born peers, the group difference only reached the marginally significance level (i.e., p =.09). However, significant correlation between verbal and visuospatial STM was found in the preschool preterm subgroup, suggesting that the verbal and visuospatial storages of WM in young preterm children were associable. Preschool-aged children of both preterm and control groups completed a 5-week online WM training at home and continued to participate in Study Two. Findings showed that training benefits in both Verbal and Visuospatial WM were found in the control group, while training-related gains were found only in Visuospatial WM in the preterm group. Moreover, longer period of time was required for the positive training effects emerged in the preterm group than in the control group. No significant transfer effects on visual attention and EF were found in either group. Taken together, findings suggested that preschool-aged preterm children might have the central executive component of the WM developed differently from their age-matched term-born peers.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2015
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • Psychological Studies in Education
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Rasmussen, Carmen (Pediatrics/Glenrose Rehailitation Hospital)
    • Cormier, Damien (Educational Psychology)
    • Andrew, Gail (Glenrose Rehailitation Hospital)
    • Alloway, Tracy (Psychology, University of North Florida)
    • Buck, George (Educational Psychology)
    • Cui, Ying (Educational Psychology)